In 1975, Eastman Kodak built the first camera with the ability to digitally capture an image. This was a major shift from the film cameras before it. Like film cameras, digital cameras follow the same process of allowing light to pass through the aperture to be captured on to a sensor. Unlike film however, the light isn’t read by a sensor that is covered by light sensitive chemicals. Light in a digital camera goes to a sensor that reads and stores light through a numeric process. This digitization paved the way for photography to more efficient, affordable, and even become more inclusive. Turning it into something people can get in on as a hobby and even turn into a career.
The camera doesn’t make the photographer but there are so many different types out there. It won’t hurt anyone to sort through them to find one that will best suit different demands.
There is a camera for every lifestyle. DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) cameras, sought out by professionals and avid hobbyists, are considered the top dog. They allow the photographer complete freedom with the ability of interchangeable lenses and manual settings to have all the say in how a picture is taken.
Compact cameras are better for people on the go. They are now commonly picked up by people like tourists, photographers who aren’t picky about their setting, and vloggers getting a start as they are so easy to use, light weight, and still able to capture such clear quality.
Similar to compact cameras, we have phone cameras. Without a doubt, I know you use one and I use one too. This is a camera people from ages 6 to 60 use mindlessly. But in the world of oh so serious photography, the demographic would be considered well seasoned photographers looking for a challenge and hobbyists so casual they might not even call themselves photographers. There is an arms race between phone brands to build a phone camera that can compete with abilities of a DSLR in something smaller than a compact body. I’m not crazy to count this in the list of decent cameras for digital photography considering they have specifications that compare well to compact cameras and have been apart of successful productions of an advertising campaigns and a full length movie.
Camcorders are intended for video. They combine the efforts of a cassette and video camera in one, however, in this day and age, this is an old fashioned and less impressive option. More people are opting for DSLR cameras because of their ability to capture HD video for a lower price.
For every camera named above, improvements can be made by adding on accessories to up the production and quality. Accessories like external flash, microphones, mounts and tripods are necessary to produce professional results. Avoid the amateur look shaky hands and muffled audio cause simply by mounting a camera to a tripod and attaching an external mic. Built in microphones usually will not suffice if one is aiming for crystal clear sound and in-camera stabilization can only do so much. External flashes are preferred by professionals than a camera’s built in, onboard flash. External flash offers the opportunities to create soft light without the risk of blowing out your subject with harsh light and draining your camera’s battery.
In cameras, three of the most important factors in capturing light work side by side. The concept of the exposure triangle helps put into a visual that a properly exposed picture is about creating a balance between three factors. Learning how these factors work and work together is key to having full control over how your photos come out and making sure there are no surprises.
Shutter speed effects how much time the light is let in through the aperture. The slower the speed (eg: 1 second, or 1/5 a second) the more light can get in, meaning a brighter picture. The faster the shutter speed (eg: 1/4000, 1/8000), the less time light can get in. Also keep in mind that the faster it can go, the wider the aperture can open, allowing for more light to come in.
ISO effect how sensitive the camera is to light. Higher ISO can help you maintain faster shutter speeds which will prevent motion blur but higher sensitivity also means a grainier picture.
Aperture (a.k.a F-stop) effects how much light is allowed in. Thing look backwards when explaining F-stop. Just remember: the bigger the number, the smaller the opening and the smaller the number, the bigger the opening. The bigger the aperture opening is, the more shallow the d.o.f and the more light can come in. The smaller the opening, the Think: bigger, brighter, blurrier
In situations like shooting a concert, the best way to balance those setting out would be to choose a faster shutter speed to capture movement, bring down the ISO sensitivity to avoid grain, and keep a well opened aperture to allow light where the other 2 setting might not allow as much of. In a situations like an outdoor wedding, assuming its well lit and not too sunny, consider a mid speed shutter with a low sensitivity to light to avoid grain and keep a smooth look, keep the aperture a bit more open to compensate for the low ISO and allow for separation of your main object from your background through the shallow depth of field given by the open aperture.
Enabling semi-automatic settings like shutter speed or aperture priority are a great way to get a better grasp of what settings are appropriate in what environment. Shutter or Aperture priority will leave you with the responsibility of choosing the the chosen how while the camera handles the two remaining settings. This leaves you with only having a 1/3 a say in how the picture is taken though. Don’t get too comfortable using semi-automatic settings. Venture into manual mode and learn to create harmony between the ISO, shutter speed, aperture.